Automotive Technology student Brandon Neighbors was named Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s 2019 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership winner and Leyner Argueta, program director of business management, was selected as the college’s 2019 Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year.

The winners were named during a reception at GNTC’s Floyd County Campus in Rome on Friday. The awards were sponsored by the Rome Floyd Chamber, the Seven Hills Rotary Club of Rome and GNTC.

“Technical education has allowed me to take the first steps toward fulfilling my dream of one day owning my own business,” said Neighbors, a resident of Ringgold. “It is equipping me with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the Automotive Technology field.”

Neighbors isa student on the Walker County Campus and was nominated by Troy Peco, assistant dean of Industrial Technologies and director of GNTC’s Automotive Technology program.

As the 2019 GOAL Winner for Georgia Northwestern, Neighbors will move to the regional competition and, if chosen as a regional winner, he will compete at the state level against winners from the other regions of Georgia. The 2019 Student of the Year and state GOAL winner will serve as TCSG’s student ambassador during a number of system and college functions throughout the year.

As the grand prize, a new automobile provided by Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia will be awarded to the state GOAL winner.

An instructor at Georgia Northwestern since 2015, Leyner Argueta teaches Management and Supervisory Development on the Whitfield Murray Campus in Dalton. He is a resident of Calhoun and is bilingual in English and Spanish.

The son of immigrants, Argueta had to overcome many obstacles growing up including being born with only one hand and being diagnosed with kidney failure at the age of 21.

 “Just like my father, I see my struggles and challenges as a platform,” said Argueta. “Today I tell my students, just as my father told me, stand on my shoulders I promise you’ll get a better view.”

From 2010 to present, Argueta has served as the pastor and founder of Faith Moves Church in Calhoun.

Argueta earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration management from Dalton State College in 2014 and a master’s degree in business administration from Shorter University in 2017.

As GNTC’s Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year, Argueta will compete in the regional competition. If chosen as a regional winner, he will compete at the state level in the competition. The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

The Rick Perkins Award winner serves as an ambassador for technical education in Georgia. He or she will make many public appearances throughout the year, including addressing both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly.